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IATA head warns of protectionist rhetoric

BRUSSELS: February 07, 2017. Speaking at the European Aviation Club today, IATA director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said his 265 members are "deeply concerned" with current political rhetoric that suggests a future of restricted borders and protectionism.

"We see it in travel bans, border walls, and trade agreements being called into question," said de Juniac. "Durable peace, prosperity or security has never been achieved through provocation, exclusion and division," he declared.

Air France 787Noting the world has grown wealthier with trade and travel and helped lift over one billion people from poverty, he said IATA would be "forceful in the face of any challenges to this truth".

IATA calculates that 8.8 million jobs are linked to aviation in the EU, as is €620 billion in GDP. Aviation in the 28 Member States accounts for nearly 20 percent of global demand with some 650 million passengers a year relying on air transport to link Europe with the rest of world.

However noting the region is not an easy or cost-efficient place to do business, de Juniac called on Member States and the European Commission "to sort out the politics and get on with" reducing costs, reinforcing security, "regulating smartly" and removing infrastructure bottlenecks - including the lack of a single European air traffic control environment despite over 30 years of discussion.

"As global competition further intensifies it is only going to get more challenging—potentially costing European jobs, hindering European growth and reducing the European quality of life," he declared.

Commenting on Brexit, de Juniac said the best result for everyone would be to preserve the connectivity that exists today and facilitate growth in the future to support prosperity for all.

"I believe that aviation is the business of freedom. Air travel liberates people to live better lives and make our world a better place," he concluded.

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